Zara Rutherford: A Pilot and Inspiration

  • 11th Feb 2022

Dear Diary,

This is an account of a 19-year-old girl named Zara Rutherford and her accomplishment in flying solo around the world.


Zara Rutherford is a Belgium-British aviator who has recently become the youngest woman to fly solo across the globe. The previous title holder was the USA’s Shaesta Waiz, who completed the task in 2017 at the age of 30.

Zara belongs to a family of aviation aficionados. Her father, who is of British origin, is a commercial pilot, and her mother, who is of Belgian origin, is a recreational pilot. Zara was fourteen when she started learning how to fly, and got her license in 2020. Her globetrotting trip spanned across five continents. She completed it in 155 days.

Her journey:

Zara learned to operate a plane by herself at the young age of 18 years. She began her solo journey from Belgium in August 2021. It had been planned for a shorter span, but lasted 155 days due to poor weather conditions and visa problems. She made her trip in a Shark UL, a single-engine, two-seater ultralight plane. It was equipped with extra fuel tanks, radios, and a parachute. She was also trained to abandon the aircraft in emergency conditions.

“I made it,” Rutherford said, when she landed at Kortrijk- Wevelgem Airport after completing her journey.

During her journey, Zara traversed across 41 countries, waiting for improved weather conditions for weeks in some of them. Her journey included 30 days in Alaska, 41 days in Russia, a detour around North Korea, and an unscheduled landing in California.

Zara’s plane wasn’t certified to fly using instrument, she had to maintain the height of 1500 feet risked her into encountering thunderstorm. She was almost struck by lightning in Singapore.

In a press conference, she notes that flying over Siberia was the hardest part because of extremely cold weather . She was scared that if the engine stalled, she would be hours away from being rescued.

Her encouragement:

Her journey for this adventure was an effort to encourage women around the world to consider aviation as a career. She also wishes to encourage women to enter STEM fields and supports the charities Girls Who Code and Dreams Soar.

We congratulate Zara for her achievements and thank her for encouraging women and girls across the world.

That’s all I have for now!

I will write to you soon,

Take care.